New Poem/New Community Dedicated to NEPA Writers

I’m pleased to announce that there is a new website/journal dedicated to creating  community among poets based in northeastern, Pennsylvania. The website, Poets of NEPA, is seeking submissions as a way to showcase local talent.  One of my poems, “Sipping Tea with You in September,” was published today. It is a very autumn-centered poem, and you can read it here.

If you are an NEPA-based poet, then submit your work!

One Last Post About ZineFest

Just a reminder that the first ever Scranton ZineFest is this Saturday! The tables of zines will be featured from noon-3 pm along Center Street. Zinesters are coming from Philly, Allentown, and all along the East Coast. You can read the full list of featured artists and zinesters by clicking here.  It’s now pretty extensive.

Following the table portion of the event, I will host the poetry reading from 4-6 pm at Outrageous Cafe/Pages and Places at Anthology, which is also at Center Street. The featured readers include Amye Archer, Rachael Goetzke, Alexis Czencz Belluzzi, Dale Wilsey Jr, and me. To read bios of the featured readers, click here.

The press has also been so kind to us, and there’s been write-ups in most of the major publications here. To read the Electric City article click here.  To read the Scranton  Times-Tribune article, click here. To read the Weekender article, click here.  To read the Go Lackawanna article, click here, and to hear the WVIA radio interview, click here.

And again, please come out to the event and support what Scranton is doing regarding the arts!

ZineFest Follow-Up

The other night, I met with Jess Meoni, the organizer of Scranton’s first ever ZineFest, and the writers who will take part in the reading portion of the festival from 4-6 pm on Saturday, June 11 at Pages and Places at Anthology (515 Center Street, Scranton).

The closer this event draws, the more excited I am about it, and I’m confident that the mix of people reading will sustain and maintain the audience’s interest. Everyone’s work is unique and different from each other’s. I wanted to take some time and share some basic info about the different writers.

Alexis Czencz Belluzi has a chapbook of poems out with the Boston-based press/publisher Big Table Publishing (These guys also put out my book, Front Man). Her book, Practicing Distance, was hailed as “teasingly original” and “a finely wrought chapbook of poems” by renowned poet Eric Tretheway, father of award-winning poet Natasha Tretheway.

Dale Wilsey Jr. is a friend and poet I’ve met over the last year. He has no qualms writing honest poems about sex and relationships, but I’ve also heard him read moving poems that explore  father/son relationships. You should check out his blog by clicking here.

Amye Barresse Archer is a friend I’ve made through the Wilkes University Graduate Creative Writing Program, where we both completed an M.A. and M.F.A.  in creative writing. She’s a witty, talented memoirist and poet. The latest collection of poems she’s working on is set to the 80s hair metal scene! How cool is that? She also just started a reading series in the Scranton area called Prose in Pubs. You should check out her blog here.

Rachael Goetzke is another friend I made through the Wilkes Program. She’s currently working on a memoir about the importance of music, especially Pearl Jam, in her life. Like her memoir, her poetry is also filled with references to music and pop culture. She is also a co-founder and editor of the literary journal Word Fountain. The new music-themed issue will be available at ZineFest. Check out her blog here.

I’ll also be reading at the event, and if you reading this blog, then you probably know my work. But if you just stumbled upon this blog, and want a sample of my stuff, check out my site here.

Also, if you are interested in showcasing your zine, poetry chapbook, jewelry, or art, there is still some time to sign up for a table. Just check the ZineFest website for more info. The cut-off date to get a table is Friday, May 27.

And before you come to the reading, make sure to check out all of the vender tables from noon-3 p.m. along Center Street.

ZineFest

Through Scranton may not be Manhattan, Baltimore, Philly, Boston, or any of the other big cities along the East Coast, I’ve always been surprised how strong of an art community this area has. If you don’t believe me, come to downtown Scranton during First Friday when the weather is warm, and you’ll see the art galleries packed.

Furthermore, this area has a pretty rich literary scene. I first discovered it when I moved back from the Philly area to attend graduate school at Wilkes University. I kept hearing about the monthly readings at Test Pattern, a venue that used to be on Adams Avenue, near the Bog. During the first reading I attended, I was impressed by the amount of poets who read, and how receptive the audience was. Once the venue closed, the reading series moved to Anthology New and Used Books. And I’m sure the poets who were part of that scene will find somewhere else to hold readings, now that Anthology is in different hands and restructuring its purpose somewhat.

One of the artists/writers I’ve met over the last few years is Jessica Meoni, a student at Marywood Univeristy. She runs a DIY publication called Ruthless Zine, which features a mix of political/social commentary, art, photography, and sometimes poetry.  Months ago, she told me about an event she’s launching called ZineFest, which will be held in downtown Scranton on Saturday, June 11, along Center Street.

She’s managed to book some editors/writers from zines along the East Coast to showcase their work at the all-day festival. I’m stoked about this festival for several reasons. First, as a former punk rock kid, I grew up going to shows where zines were as much a part of the subculture as the music.  In addition, I wrote for WonkaVision Magazine for a number of years, a music magazine based out of Philly. It started out as a small zine, but then grew into a large publication found in several different states. Zines always served as a great way to spread music, to support the indie/punk rock subculture, and to offer alternative, progressive viewpoints on a number of social/political issues. In the age of the Internet, it’s also nice to know that there are still people out there creating DIY print publications.

So, kudos to Jess Meoni for putting this together. I hope it enriches the  literary scene in this area, and I hope it becomes an annual event.

I’ll be hosting the reading portion of this event from 4-6 pm on June 11th at Pages and Places at Anthology, 515 Center Street. When the event is closer, I’m going to share some more info about the readers. Trust me, it’s a solid, entertaining mix! The rest of the festival will feature different tables along Center Street, right in front of Pages and Places at Anthology. The tables will feature different zines, arts, and crafts.

 To learn more about ZineFest, click here, and return to my blog for more updates about the event as it gets closer to the date! The website has more info about zome of the zines that will be at the event.

Langston Hughes Project Coming to Scranton

Langston Hughes, the most influential Harlem Renaissance poet, is going to be showcased in the Scranton area, at Lackawanna College’s Mellow Theater. The press release I received about this project is posted below. It sounds like a wonderful way to spend a Friday evening and experience Hughes’ poetry mixed with jazz.

On Friday, February 18, 2011 at 8:00pm, Community Concerts at Lackawanna College will present The Langston Hughes Project, Ask Your Mama: Twelve Moods for Jazz, featuring the Ron McCurdy Quartet at the Mellow Theater at Lackawanna College. The Langston Hughes Project is a multimedia concert performance of Langston Hughes’s kaleidoscopic jazz poem suite. Ask Your Mama is Hughes’s homage in verse and music to the struggle for artistic and social freedom at home and abroad at the beginning of the 1960s. It is a twelve-part epic poem which Hughes scored with musical cues drawn from blues and Dixieland, gospel songs, boogie woogie, bebop and progressive jazz, Latin “cha cha” and Afro-Cuban mambo music, German lieder, Jewish liturgy, West Indian calypso, and African drumming — a creative masterwork left unperformed at his death. Tickets are $30 and $20 and can be obtained by calling (570) 955-1455, in person through the college’s box office and online through www.etix.com

Student tickets are available for only $15. This performance is sponsored in part by Prudential Financial. Jazz was a cosmopolitan metaphor for Langston Hughes, a force for cultural convergence beyond the reach of words, or the limits of any one language. It called up visual analogues for him as well, most pointedly the surrealistic techniques of painterly collage and of the film editing developed in this country in the 1930s and 40s, which condensed time and space, conveyed to the viewer a great array of information in short compass, and which offered the possibility of suggesting expanded states of consciousness, chaotic remembrances of past events or dreams — through montage. “To me,” Hughes wrote, “jazz is a montage of a dream deferred. A great big dream — yet to come — and always yet to become ultimately and finally true.”
Substantial group discounts are also available by calling (570) 955-1455.  For more information, please visit www.lackawanna.edu/CommunityConcerts .